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  WHAT TO GIVE IN RETURN? Suspicion in a Roma shantytown from Romania

    Contrary to the Mead-controversy where suspicion in fieldwork has been attributed to lack of competence or failure, the present paper considers suspicion as important ethnographic data. Through re-telling the difficulties of a research carried out among the Roma residents of a Romanian shantytown, I try to reveal all the mechanisms that are responsible for both creating suspicion and detaching the researcher from her/his informants. Embedded in Eastern-European social and political changes, mistrust in this field goes back to an initial territorial stigma attached to the locals. My research site, "the Green block of flats" has become a ghetto due to massive unemployment and differences in living conditions, where isolation from the outer world has been enforced by misunderstandings with local institutions. Being "used" by NGOs and subjected to unfulfilled treatment under the label of "helping the Roma", shantytown-residents could but reject the newcomer researcher who seemed to be one of "them".

    Key words: suspicion, fieldwork, Roma, Eastern Europe, ghetto

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